Culture as a Negative
There seems to more talk about culture and risk. A recent WSJ article highlighted how Wells Fargo will survey a couple hundred thousand employees in an attempt to measure and understand culture. This is a nice plan and a step forward.
Culture should be Measured in All the Right Places
To improve culture it is wise to know where it stands already. This usually includes measurement of culture and the Wells Fargo story suggests that is what they are doing. But in our earlier study on culture we focused on the culture and relationship between the C-Suite and the Board. Given that some (many or all) of these cultural debacles may have roots from the top, it is hard to believe that Boards are not demanding a measure or assessment of the C-Suite - Board culture and relationship. That study suggested a few key starting points.
Culture and Greatness - An Observation
What should not be lost in the stories is that culture is also a key to greatness. It is not uncommon for new CEOs to admit that to turn the company around they need to change the culture; implying their fundamental belief that culture is related to being a great company. One successful CEO once told me that when his company loses their "soul" they get off track. When they are most successful they seem to have that soul again. I think he meant a form of culture, a discipline, buy-in, and a commitment to the mission.
At some of the best companies that have let us in their doors (to do research) there does seem to be something their - a swagger, a confidence, a buy-in, everyone on the same page (ibidem). It appears to lead to greatness and success on their part.